The latest war-oriented period drama from Steve Spielberg, War Horse, arrives in theaters this upcoming December. However, many people are already looking ahead to his next historical project: the long-gestating Lincoln biopic, which Spielberg plans to start shooting on location in Virginia next month.
Lincoln is based on Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin’s well-respected book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” Goodwin collaborated on the Lincoln screenplay with another Pulitzer Prize-winner, Tony Kushner (Munich) – with Oscar-nominee John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator) and relative newcomer Paul Webb credited for an earlier draft of the script.
Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic long had Liam Neeson loosely attached to portray the famous, and bearded, U.S. president but those plans eventually fell by the wayside. However, Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis essentially resuscitated the project when he signed on to portray the titular historical figure, last year.
A whole slew of acclaimed thespians thereafter signed on for Lincoln, including Oscar-winners like Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones, on-the-ups star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), and highly-respected character actors such as John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), David Costabile (Breaking Bad), Walton Goggins (Justified), and David Strathairn – among many other critically-acclaimed supporting players.
While the film boasts a huge cast – not to mention, Goodwin’s source material focuses in no small part on Lincoln’s rise to political power – Spielberg is indicating that his biopic will be much more specific and personal in its focus.
Here is what he told the Orlando Sentinel:
“['Lincoln' is] not a battlefield movie. There are [Civil War] battles in it, and being in Virginia, we have access to those historic battlefields. It is really a movie about the great work Abraham Lincoln did in the last months of his life… We’re basing it on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, ‘Team of Rivals,’ but we’re only focusing in on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life.
Spielberg also mentioned that Lincoln will not hit theaters until after the 2012 U.S. presidential election is held – since he “didn’t want it to become political fodder.”
Narrowing down the focus is almost always a good idea when it comes to biopics – especially one that covers the eventful life of a historical figure like Lincoln. Combine that bit of information with the great cast and multiple Oscar-winning team working behind the camera on Lincoln – including Spielberg, director of photography Janusz Kaminiski (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan), production/art designer Rick Carter (Forrest Gump, Avatar), and Spielberg’s go-to composer, the legendary John Williams – and it should be (painfully) obvious: Lincoln is 100% pure Oscar bait.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be a fantastic piece of cinema, though…
We will let you know when Lincoln has settled on an official release date.